Armed guards to protect British ships from pirates

UK PM Cameron said he wanted to combat the risks to shipping off the coast of Somalia.

Last Updated: Oct 30, 2011, 16:47 PM IST

London: Ships sailing under the British flag will now be able to carry armed guards to protect them from Somali pirates, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Cameron said he wanted to combat the risks to shipping off the coast of Somalia, where 49 hijackings took place last year, BBC reported.

The prime minister said he wanted to make the practice of taking armed guards legal after talks in Australia with Commonwealth leaders over the escalating problem faced in Somali waters.

The British government has said no ship carrying armed security has yet been hijacked.

However, countries like South Africa do not allow ships to carry armed guards, even though many British ships already illegally carry armed guards because companies feel they have no alternative.

On being asked if he was comfortable with giving private security guards the right to "shoot to kill" if necessary, Cameron said: "We have to make choices. Frankly, the extent of the hijack and ransom of ships round the Horn of Africa is a complete stain on our world."

"The fact that a bunch of pirates in Somalia are managing to hold to ransom the rest of the world and our trading system is a complete insult and the rest of the world needs to come together with much more vigour," he said.

IANS